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'The Script Tease Project' performed by Matt Baram and Naomi Snieckus

Now onstage at 180 Shaw Street, Small World Arts-Centre, Artscape Young Place

Now onstage at 180 Shaw Street, Small World Arts-Centre, Artscape Young Place

Joe Szekeres

When Matt Baram and Naomi Snieckus are in charge, improvisation can be a hell of a lot of fun.

‘The Script Tease Project’s’ premise is simple. Performers Matt Baram and Naomi Snieckus ask a Canadian playwright to pen the first two pages of a script that will probably not see the light of day. Baram and Snieckus elicit responses to specific questions to help focus the story. These suggestions will somehow be incorporated into the improvisation the audience is about to see. Finally, the two of them read the script before us, the houselights go down, and the performance begins. There is no further audience input.

As a former community theatre actor, I’ve always found improvisation one of the most challenging dramatic techniques. Teaching improvisation was equally challenging. When I taught Dramatic Arts way long ago in a high school setting (for two years), improvisation was the hardest to utilize within a classroom of rowdy teenagers who were hell-bent on wanting to sound like the latest comedian. Even after repeated explanations of the purpose of improvisation, it just didn’t seem to click with young people.

I don’t know how Baram and Snieckus do it. They may make improvisation look easy on the stage; it’s not, but it was a hell of a lot of fun watching the two of them for nearly just over an hour. They are well-trained in improvisation. One-line quips and zingers are flung back and forth at each other, but never in the style of stand-up comics. There was always a purpose behind what they were saying or doing.

Canadian playwright George F. Walker penned the two-page plus script the night I attended. The story deals with two siblings whose parents make a suicide pact. And off it went from there sometimes to the bizarre, the hilarious, and a bit on the poignant side.

Through it all, Baram and Snieckus remained in solid synchronicity with each other. Even when the audience experienced fits of laughter, the two of them held their focus on each other, paused when necessary so the audience wouldn’t miss any dialogue, and pressed further on in telling the story. Seann Murray’s Sound and Tech Designs sometimes added to the scene's hilarity. One occurred with the wandering spotlight.

Final Comment: Just a reminder that Baram and Snieckus never give the same performance each night. Their performance improvisation is different once they read the script and have a few minutes to compose themselves before they launch into their work.

And I was so pleased I had the chance to see them at work.

And you should also go to see them at work too.

‘The Script Tease Project’ runs until September 22 at Small World Arts-Centre, Artscape Young Place, 180 Shaw Street, Toronto.

For tickets:

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